Transit Corridor Current Affairs

India joins Ashgabat agreement

India has joined Ashgabat Agreement which envisages facilitation of transit and transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf to significantly boost up trade and investment. It was informed by Turkmenistan, as depository state of the Agreement that all its four founding members have consented to accession of India.

Ashgabat Agreement

Ashgabat Agreement aims at establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor between the Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It was signed in April 2011 and is named after  capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat. It establishes international transport and transit corridor between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf countries. Pakistan is also its member since October 2016.

Significance of accession to Agreement

  • It will enable India to utilise this existing transport and transit corridor to facilitate trade and commercial interaction and ties with Central Asia and Eurasian region.
  • It will synchronise India’s efforts to implement the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) for enhanced connectivity.
  • It will provide India an opportunity for reorientation of the freight traffic from the traditional sea route to land transcontinental routes.

Background

India had deposited the Instrument of Accession with Turkmenistan in April 2016. Prior to it, the Union Cabinet had given its approval for India to accede to Ashgabat Agreement in March 2016.

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Kolkata-Ashuganj-Tripura transit facility between India, Bangladesh becomes operational

Kolkata-Ashuganj-Tripura transit facility under the revised Inland Water Transit and Trade Protocol between India and Bangladesh became operational.

The transit facility was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka in June 2015. It was officially inaugurated on 16 June 2016.

As part of it, the first ship from Kolkata carrying 1000 tonnes of steel and iron sheets reached Ashuganj river port in Bangladesh. From the port the cargo will transit throughout Bangladesh territory to reach its destination in Tripura.

About Kolkata-Ashuganj-Tripura transit facility

  • The facility running through a land and river route crossing Bangladesh territory cuts the Kolkata-Agartala distance via Siliguri’s ‘chicken neck’ from 1600 km to 800 km.
  • It also has reduced the time of the journey from 30 days (via Siliguri corridor) to just 10 days.
  • It has cut the transportation costs from mainland India to the north-eastern state from 67 US dollars to 35 US dollars per tonne.
  • However, as per the protocol India pays transit fees of 192.25 dollars per tonne as negotiated between the two countries.

Comment

  • With the formal inauguration of the transit facility, both friendly neighbours have crossed yet another milestone in their bilateral relations and regional connectivity.
  • The Kolkata-Ashuganj-Tripura tranist route gives mainland India cheaper and easier access to the seven landlocked northeastern states.

Regional Connectivity

Under the India-Bangladesh Bilateral Trade Agreement, the revised Inland Water Transit & Trade Protocol gives both countries right to use each other’s territory for transiting goods to third countries. Thus it allows Bangladesh to transit goods to Bhutan and Nepal while India can access Myanmar via Bangladesh giving impetus to Act east policy. The protocol also facilitates trade and development not only between Bangladesh and India but also in the entire sub-region facilitating trade and development in the sub-region.

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